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Tümpel, Christian

    Full Name: Tümpel, Christian

    Other Names:

    • Christian Tümpel

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 31 March 1937

    Date Died: 09 September 2009

    Place Born: Bielefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

    Place Died: Bad Kissingen, Bavaria, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): Dutch (culture or style) and painting (visual works)

    Career(s): clergy


    Rembrandt scholar; Lutheran minister. Tümpel was the son of the silver- and goldsmith Wolfgang Tümpel (1903-1978), who had been trained at the Bauhaus and subsequently at the Burg Giebichenstein School for the applied arts. Tümpel studied theology and philosophy at the Kirchliche Hochschule Bethel from 1958 to 1963. From this year until 1968 he studied art history and archeology at the universities of Heidelberg, Berlin, and Hamburg. In Hamburg he received the doctor’s degree under the supervision of Wolfgang Schöne with his dissertation, Studien zur Ikonographie der Historien Rembrandts. This study was well received. From 1968 to 1969 he was a fellow at the London Warburg Institute. For the 1970 exhibition Rembrandt legt die Bibel aus, which was organized by the Evangelische Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg and the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett, Tümpel wrote the catalog, in collaboration with his wife Astrid, also an art historian. In 1971 Tümpel was awarded the prize of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In that year he declined an offer from Julius S. Held for a teaching position at Columbia University. Tümpel instead choose to complete his study of theology, and subsequently, during ten years, he served as a Lutheran minister at the Hamburg Matthäusgemeinde. In 1973 he founded Kunstforum Matthäus, an “Akademie in der Gemeinde”, presenting classes, lectures, and travel on art- and church history. In 1984 he obtained a teaching position, and later a professorship, at the Catholic University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands (today, Radboud University). In 1986 his major monograph on Rembrandt, Rembrandt, Mythos und Method, appeared, along with translations in various languages. Astrid Tümpel contributed the chapter on Pieter Lastman, and on Rembrandt’s “Honderdguldenprent” (“The Hundred Guilder Print”), representing Christ Preaching. In 1990 the Amsterdam Joods Historisch Museum took the initiative for an exhibition on the Old Testament in Dutch painting of the Golden Age. To realize this project, Tümpel set up a research team studying the various sources of the representations of Old Testament scenes in Dutch painting of the 1600s. Among the topics was the intellectual discourse between Jews and Christians in that period. The findings were published in the 1991 exhibition catalog, Het Oude Testament in de Schilderkunst van de Gouden Eeuw. It includes an essay by Tümpel on the reception of Flavius Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities in Dutch art. Tümpel’s research led to more exhibitions, including Patriarchs, Angels & Prophets. The Old Testament in Netherlandish Printmaking from Lucas van Leyden to Rembrandt, held in the Amsterdam Rembrandt House Museum in 1996-1997. In addition to the iconography of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century paintings and printmaking, Tümpel also developed an interest in modern sculpture. In 1991 he was involved in an exhibition of German sculptures that were denounced by the Nazis as “entartet”. This show, Deutsche Bildhauer, 1900-1945, Entartet was first held in the Nijmegen Museum Commanderie van Sint-Jan, in collaboration with the Nijmegen University Art History Institute. It subsequently traveled to Haarlem and later to various museums in Germany. After his retirement, in 2002, Tümpel settled in Ahrenberg near Hamburg. Here he founded, in 2004, another section of Kunstforum Matthäus: Kunstforum Schlosskirche Ahrensberg, Tümpel and his wife remained active as scholars. In 2006 a revised English edition of Rembrandt, Mythos und Methode appeared, Rembrandt, Images and Metaphors. Tümpel also contributed to Rembrandt – Quest of a Genius, a publication in conjunction with the 2006 exhibition at the Rembrandt House Museum and at the Berlin Gemäldegalerie. In June, 2009, the couple participated at a Rembrandt conference at Queen’s University International Study Center in Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex. A few months later, Tümpel died unexpectedly. Tümpel wrote studies on Rembrandt and organized exhibitions and exhibition catalogues.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation Hamburg University, 1968:] Studien zur Ikonographie der Historien Rembrandts, published in Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 20 (1969): 107-198; and Tümpel, Astrid. Rembrandt legt die Bibel aus. Zeichnungen und Radierungen aus dem Kupferstichkabinett der Staatlichen Museen Preussicher Kulturbesitz Berlin. Berlin: Hessling, 1970; and Tümpel, Astrid. Rembrandt, Mythos und Methode. Königstein im Taunus: Langewiesche, 1986, English, German, French, and Dutch: Antwerp: Mercatorfonds, 1986; et al.Het Oude Testament in de Schilderkunst van de Gouden Eeuw. Zwolle: Waanders, 1991; et al. Deutsche Bildhauer, 1900-1945, entartet. Zwolle: Waanders, 1992; Van der Coelen et al. Patriarchs, Angels & Prophets. The Old Testament in Netherlandish Printmaking from Lucas van Leyden to Rembrandt. Amsterdam: Museum Het Rembrandthuis, 1996; and Tümpel, Astrid. Rembrandt, Images and Metaphors. London: Haus Publishing Limited, 2006; “Traditional and groundbreaking: Rembrandt’s iconography” in Van de Wetering, Ernst et al.Rembrandt – Quest of a Genius. Zwolle: Waanders, 2006.


    [obituaries:] “The Eminent Scholar Christian Tümpel (1937-2009) has Passed Away” ; Golahny, Amy. “In Memoriam Christian Ludwig Tümpel (31 March 1937 – 9 September 2009)”

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen and Monique Daniels


    Lee Sorensen and Monique Daniels. "Tümpel, Christian." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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